Stories

Andrew Yang's unorthodox pledge: $1,000/month for 10 random families

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Image

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang announced Thursday that his campaign will give $12,000 to ten randomly-selected families, as a means to amplify and test his signature campaign proposal of a "freedom dividend."

The bull case: Yang believes that monthly government payments of $1,000 to citizens, a form of universal basic income, would help people make ends meet, encourage entrepreneurship, and provide short-term cover for those who lose jobs due to automation.

  • Yang's proposed payouts would not be means-tested, so as to reduce both stigma and bureaucracy.
  • No other presidential candidate has adopted Yang's specific proposal, nor a different form of universal basic income.

The bear case: Yang's announced $120,000 giveaway will be funded via general campaign donations, according to spokesman Randy Jones, which is within a legal gray area.

  • As the New York Times reports, federal election rules prohibit campaign funds from being used on "personal expenses," which are generally defined as expenses that wouldn't exist were there not a campaign.
  • Yang's argument is that the $120,000 is specifically related to the campaign, which is undoubtedly true. But, at the same time, recipients will certainly use the money on personal expenses that have nothing to do with politics (e.g., paying bills, buying food, etc.).

Go deeper: Andrew Yang explains his "freedom dividend"